Friday, March 16, 2012



Alex entered the interrogation room, hiding his satisfaction when he saw the renegade Bhor shrink back in the chair they had him shackled to. But Sr. Madea of the fighting Conde Koma Clan fought back his fear, and bellowed a string of oaths.

"You filthy scrote of a clot! You son of a twice-poxed Joygirl! You… You… You…"

The curses got filthier and imaginative as the Bhor raged on.

Kilgour ignored him, directing the guards to set up his table and chair as before. Along with jugs of narcobeer and stregg, and mugs and shot glasses to help deliver them to his gullet.

When the guards were gone, he sat and calmly poured himself a mug of narcobeer and glass of stregg. He drank, savoring the savage combination of the two.

When the Bhor had shouted himself hoarse, Alex belched, then leaned forward in his chair.
"Ah'll begin mah tale whaur Ah left aff yesterday. If ye min' properly, uir puir wee hero was tint in th' desert, dyin ay thirst, when he cam upon a huge, fierce diamondback rattlesnake wrapped aroond a post."

"An, lo and behold, the snake spoke to him. And then-"

"Wait, wait," cried Madea the Bhor. "Aren't you going to demand that I talk?"

Alex frowned, seemingly puzzled. "Talk aboot wha', laddie?"

"Why, the whereabouts of the Crown Prince that my mates are holding for ransom. Deadline is in five - four days, now - and if the Eternal Emperor doesn't pay the clot up, we're gonna cut off the kid's royal head."

Then he laughed… a little shrilly Alex thought with satisfaction.

"No, laddie," Alex said. "Ah'll no be askin' ye those things. You'll tell us by and by."

"Never!" shouted the Bhor. "Clottin' never!"

"Oh, but ye will," Alex said. "But aam a generoos cheil an' willnae be spoilin' yer fin by nae tellin' ye lae ay th' story."

The big Bhor steeled himself. "Go ahead, cheena, he said. "Do your worst."

And so Alex did his worst and continued the story….

… Sae, our puir laddie hears the snake speak just as th' dizziness overtakes heem an' he falls forward.

An th' snake says,"Very weel. comin' up."

A piercin' pain shoots ben our laddies shoolder. Suddenly he is waukin'.

He sits up an' grabs his shoolder, wincin' at th' throbbin' pain. He's momentarily disoriented as he looks aroond, an' 'en he remembers - th' crawl athwart th' sain, th' mirk area ay staine, th' snake. he sees th' snake, still wrapped aroond th' tilted white post, still lookin' at heem.

Our boyo reaches up an' feels his shoolder, whaur it hurts. It feels slightly dreich. He pulls his fingers awa' an' looks at them - bluid. He feels his shoolder again - his sark has whit feels loch tois holes in it - tois puncture holes - they match up wi' th' tois achin' spots ay pain oan his shoolder.

He hud bin bitten. by th' snake!

"It'll feel better in a minute," comes a voice.

 He looks up - it's th' snake talkin'. He hadnae dreamed it. suddenly he notices - he's nae dizzy onie mair. An' mair importantly, he's nae thirsty onie mair - at aw!

"Hae Ah died? Is thes th' afterlife? Wa ur ye bitin' me in th' afterlife?"

"Sorry abit 'at, but Ah hud tae bite ye," says th' snake. "That's th' way Ah work. It aw comes ben th' bite. Think ay it as natural medicine."

"Yoo bit me tae help me? Wa arenae Ah thirsty onie mair? Did ye gezz a drink afair ye bit me? Hoo did Ah bevvy enaw while unconscioos tae nae be thirsty onie mair? Ah huvnae hud a bevvy fur ower tois days. Weel, except fur the windshield wiper fluid... hauld it, hoo in th' warld diz a snake gab? Aur ye real, mate? Ur ye some sort ay livie animation?"

"No," says th' snake, "I'm real. as real as ye ur anyain is, anyway. Ah didnae gie ye a bevvy. Ah bit ye. That's hoo it works - It's whit Ah dae. Ah bite. Ah dornt hae hans tae gie ye a bevvy, e'en if Ah hud water jist sittin' aroond haur."

The laddie sat stunned fur a minute. Haur he was, sittin' in th' middle ay th' desert oan some strange staine 'at shoods be hot but wasnae, talkin' tae a snake 'at coods gab back an' hud jist bitten heem. An' he felt better. Nae great - he was still starvin' an' exhausted, but much better - he was nae longer thirsty.

 He hud started tae sweat again, but only slightly. He felt hot, in thes sin, but it was startin' tae gie lower in th' lift, an' th' stoat stain beneath heem was a relief he coods notice noo 'at he was nae longer dyin' ay thirst.

"I micht suggest 'at we tak' caur ay 'at methanol ye noo hae in yer system wi' th' next request," continued th' snake. "I can guess wa ye drenk it, but aam nae sure hoo much ye drenk, ur hoo much methanol was left in th' wiper fluid. 'At mince is mingin'. It'll make ye gang blind in a day or tae, if ye drenk enaw ay it."

 "Ummm, n-next request?" said th' man. He pit his hain back oan his hurting shoolder an' backed awa' frae th' snake a wee.

"That's th' way it works. If ye loch, 'at is," explained th' snake. "Yoo git thee requests. Caa them wishes, if ye wish."

Th' snake grinned at his oon joke, an' th' wee lad drew back a wee further frae th' shaw ay fangs. "But thaur ur rules," th' snake continued. "The first request is free. Th' second requires an agreement ay secrecy. Th' third requires th' bindin' ay responsibility."

Th' snake looks at th' cheil serioosly. "By th' way," th' snake says suddenly, "Ny nam is Nathan. Auld Nathan, Samuel used tae caa me. He gae me th' nam. Afair 'at, most ay th' boond used tae jist caa me 'snake'. But 'at got auld, an' Samuel wooldnae stand fur it. He said 'at anythin' 'at coods gab needed a nam. He was big into names. Ye can caa me Nate, if ye wish."

Again, th' snake grinned. "Sorry if Ah dornt offer tae shake, but Ah hink ye can kin - mah shake soonds somewhat threatenin'." Th' snake gie his rattle a wee shake.

"Umm, mah nam is Jack," said th' cheil, tryin' tae absorb aw ay thes. "Jack Samson.

"Can Ah ask ye a question?" Jack says suddenly. "What happened tae th' poison...umm, in yer bite. Wa arenae Ah dyin' noo? Hoo did ye dae 'at? What dae ye pure techt by that's hoo ye wark?"

"That's mair than a body question," grins Nate. "But i'll still try tae answer aa ay them. First, och aye, ye can ask me a question."

Th' snake's grin gits wider. "Second, th' poison is in ye. It changed ye. Ye noo nae longer need tae bevvy. That's whit ye speart fur. Ur, weel, technically, ye speart tae nae be thirsty onie mair - but 'any more' is sic' a vague term. Ah decided tae make it permanent - noo, as lang as ye bide, ye shooldnae need tae bevvy much at AA. Yer body will conserve water huir uv a efficiently. Ye shoods be able tae git enaw jist frae th' scran ye eat - much loch a creature ay th' desert. Yoo've bin changed.

"Fur th' third question," Nate continues, "Yoo ur still dyin'. Besides th' effects ay 'at methanol in yer system, yoo're a cheil - an' men ur mortal. In yer current state, Ah gie ye nae mair than abit anither 50 years. Assumin' ye gie it ay thes desert, alife, 'at is."

Nate seemed vastly amused at his ain humur, an' continued his wide grin. "As fur th' foorth question," Nate said, lookin' mair serioos as far as Jack coods teel, as Jack was jusnoo workin' oan his ability tae read talking-snake emotions frae snake facial features, "First ye hae tae agree tae make a second request an' become boond by th' secrecy, ur Ah cannae tell yoo."

"Wait," joked Jack, "Isnae thes whaur ye say ye coods teel me, but yoo'd hae tae kill me?"

"I thooght 'at was implied." Nate continued tae swatch serioos. "Ummm...yeah."

Jack leaned back a wee as he remembered again 'at he was talkin' tae a fifteen fit poisonoos reptile wi' a reputation fur havin' a nasty temper.

"So, whit is thes 'boond by secrecy' mince, an' can ye pure stop th' effects ay th' methanol?" Jack thooght fur a second. "Ain, whit dae yoo pure techt methanol, anyway? Ah thooght these days they use ethanol in wiper fluid, an' jist denature it?"

"They main, Ah dornt pure ken," said Nate. "I huvnae gotten it in a while. Mebbe they dae. Aw Ah ken is 'at Ah reek methanol oan yer breath an' on 'at bottle in yer pooch. An' th' blue colur ay th' liquid when ye pulled it it tae bevvy some lit me guess 'at it was wiper fluid. Ah assume that they still colur wiper fluid blue?"

"Yeah, they dae," said Jack.

"I figured," replied Nate. "As fur bein' boond by secrecy - wi' th' fulfillment ay yer next request, ye will be boond tae say naethin' abit me, this place, ur onie ay th' information Ah will teel ye efter 'at, when ye decide tae gang back it tae yer kin'. ye willnae be allowed tae gab abit me, write abit me, use sign leid, charades, ur e'en act in a way 'at will leid someain tae guess correctly abit me. Yoo'll be boond tae secrecy. ay coorse, i'll also ask ye tae tryst nae tae gezz awa', an' as aam guessin' 'at yoo're a cheil ay yer wuid, yoo'll ne'er test th' binding anyway, sae ye willnae notice." Nate said th' lest part wi' utter confidence.

Jack, fa hud aye prided himself oan bein' a cheil ay his wuid, felt a little nervoos at thes. "Ummm, guid day, Nate, fa ur ye? Hoo did ye ken that? Ur ye, umm, omniscient, ur somethin'?

" Weel, Jack," said Nate sadly, "I cannae teel ye 'at, unless ye make th' second request."

Nate looked awa' fur a minute, 'en looked back. "umm, weel, awe rite," said Jack, "what is thes abit a second request? Whit can Ah ask fur? Ur ye allowed tae teel me 'at?"

"Sure!" said Nate, brightenin'. "Yoo're allowed tae ask fur changes. Changes tae yerself. They're loch wishes, but they can only affect ye. Och, an' befair ye ask, Ah cannae gie ye immortality. ur omniscience. or omnipresence, fur 'at matter. Thocht Ah micht be able tae make ye gaseoos ain yit remain alife, an' 'en ye coods spreid ben th' atmosphaur an' sort ay be omnipresent. But whit guid woods 'at be - ye still wooldnae be omniscient an' thus still coods only focus oan a body hin' at a time. Nae huir uv a useful, at leest in mah opinion."

(The renegade Bhor groaned in terrible pain and Alex stopped abruptly. Drank some narcobeer and stregg and waited patiently until the Bhor's breathing returned to normal. Then, just as Madea thought that Alex was going to take a break, the Heavyworlder plunged on… continuing the story…)

Sae, Nate stopped when he realized 'at Jack was starin' at heem.

"Weel, anyway," continued Nate, "I'd probably suggest givin' ye permanent guid health. it woods negate th' methanol noo in yer system, yoo'd be immune tae most poisons an' diseases, an' yoo'd tend tae bide a huir uv a long time, barrin' accident, ay coorse. an' yoo'll e'en hae a tendency tae recowre frae accidents weel. It aye seemed loch a guid choice fur a request tae me."

"Cure th' methanol poisonin', huh?" said Jack. "Ain keep me healthy fur a lang time? Hmmm. It doesnae soond bad at 'at. An' it has tae be a request abit a change tae me? Ah cannae ask tae be rich, reit? Coz that's nae really a change tae me?"

"Recht," nodded Nate.

"Coods Ah ask tae be a genius an' permanently healthy?" Jack speart, hopefully.

"That takes tois requests, Jack."

"Yeah, Ah figured sae," said Jack. "But Ah coods ask tae be a genius? Ah coold become th' smartest scientist in th' warld? ur th' best athlete?"

"Weel, Ah coods make ye huir uv a smart," admitted Nate, "But 'at wooldn't necessarily make ye th' best scientist in th' warld. ur, Ah coods make ye very athletic, but it wooldnae necessarily make ye th' best athlete either.

"Yoo've heard th' sayin' 'at 99% ay genius is stoaner wark? Weel, there's some truth tae 'at. Ah can gie ye th' talent, but Ah cannae make ye wark stoaner. It aa depends oan whit ye decide tae dae wi' it."

"Hmmm," said Jack. "Ok, Ah hink Ah kin. an' Ah gie a third request, after thes a body?"

"Maybe," said Nate, "it depends oan whit ye decide 'en. Thaur ur mair rules fur th' third request 'at Ah can only teel ye abit efter th' second request. Ye ken hoo it goes."

Nate looked loch he'd shrug, if he hud shoolders. "Ok, weel, since eh'd raither nae be blin' in a day ur tois, an' permanent health doesnae soond bad, 'en consider 'at mah second request. Officially. Do Ah need tae sign in bluid ur somethin'?"

"No," said Nate. "Joost hauld it yer hain. ur heel."

Nate grinned. "Or whatever part ye want me tae bite. Ah hae tae bite ye again. Loch Ah said, that's hoo it works - th' poison, ye ken," Nate said apologetically.

Jack winced a wee an' felt his shoolder, whaur th' lest bite was. Guid day, it didnae hurt onie mair. Jist loch Nate hud said. 'At gart Jack feel better abit th' bitin' business. But still, standin' still while a fifteen foot snake sunk it's fangs intae ye.

Jack stuid up. Ignorin' hoo guid it felt tae be able tae stain again, an' th' hunger startin' tae gnaw at his stomach, Jack tried tae decide whaur he wanted tae gie bitten. Despite knowin' 'at it wooldnae hurt fur lang, Jack kent 'at thes wasnae gonnae be easy.

"Hey, Jack," Nate suddenly said, lookin' pest Jack towards th' dunes behind heem. "Is 'at someain else comin' up ower thaur?"

Jack spin aroond an' looked. fa else coods be it haur in th' middle ay nowhaur? An' did they brin' scran? Wait a minute, thaur was nobody ower thaur. Whit was Nate...

Jack lit it a bellaw as he felt tois fangs jawbox intae his rear end, ben his jeans... Jack sat doon canny, favorin' his mair tender buttock. "I woods hae decided, eventually, Nate. Ah was jist thinkin' abit it. Ye didne hae tae hoodwink me loch 'at."

"I've bin daein' thes a lang time, Jack," said Nate, confidently. "Yoo humans hae a stoaner time sittin' still an' lettin' a snake bite ye - especially a body mah size. An' besides, admit it - it's only bin a coople ay minutes an' it awreddy doesnae hurt onie mair, diz it? That's coz ay th' health benefit wi' thes a body. Ah tauld ye 'at yoo'd heal quickly noo."

"Yeah, weel, still," said Jack, "it's th' principle ay th' hin'. An' nobody likes bein' bitten in th' butt! Cooldnae ye hae gotten mah cauf or somethin' insteid?"

"Mair meat in th' typical human butt," replied Nate. "Ain less chance ye accidentally kick me ur move at th' lest second."

"Yeah, reit. Sae, teel me away these wonderful secrets 'at Ah noo qualify tae hear," answered Jack.

 "Ok," said Nate. "Do ye want tae ask questions first, ur dae ye want me tae joost start talkin'?"

"Joost gab," said Jack. "I'll sit haur an' try tae nae hink abit scran."

"We coods gang try tae rustle up some scran fur ye first, if ye loch," answered Nate.

"Yey! ye didne teel me ye hud scran aroond haur, Nate!" Jack jumped up. "What dae we hae? Am Ah in walkin' distance tae toon? Ur can ye magically whip up scran alang wi' yer other powers?"

Jack was almost shootin' wi' excitement. His stomach hud bin growlin' fur hoors.

"I was thinkin' mair loch Ah coods flush somethin' it ay its hole an' bite it fur ye, an' ye coods skin it an' eat it. assumin' ye hae a chib, that is," replied Nate, wi' th' grin 'at Jack was startin' tae gie used tae.

"Ugh," said Jack, sittin' back doon. "I hink i'll pass. Ah can lest a wee longer afair Ah gie desperate enaw tae eat desert rat, ur whatever else it is ye fin' it haur. An' there's naethin' tae burn - eh'd hae tae eat it raw. no cheers. jist gab."

"Ok," replied Nate, still grinnin'. "But eh'd better coorie, afair ye start lookin' at me as scran.

Nate reared back a wee, looked aroond fur a second, an' 'en continued. "Yoo, Jack - ur sittin' in th' middle ay th' garden ay eden."


Alex came to a stop and banged the table. The renegade Bhor nearly jumped out of his skin.

"Weel, that's it fur the-day, mah laddie. Sleep weel, an' i'll be back in th' morn."

He drained his mug, climbed to his feet and went to the door.

"Wait, wait," cried the Bhor. "You're not really coming back, are you? Have you no clottin' mercy?"

"We'll ye teel us whaur th' prince is?" Alex askedt.

The Bhor straightened in his chair. "Never," he said. And then again - "Never."

"I'm canty tae hear 'at," Alex said. "Ah'm jist startin' tae gie tae th' pure interestin' part ay th' story."

And he went out the door.


The entire 8-novel landmark science fiction series is now being presented in three three giant omnibus editions from Orbit Books.  The First - BATTLECRY - features the first three books in the series: Sten #1; Sten #2 -The Wolf Worlds; and Sten #3, The Court Of A Thousand Suns. Next: JUGGERNAUT, which features Sten #4, Fleet Of The Damned; Sten #5, Revenge Of The Damned; and Sten #6, The Return Of The Emperor. Finally, there's DEATHMATCH, which contains Sten #6, Vortex; and Sten #7, End Of Empire. Click on the highlighted titles to buy the books. Plus, if you are a resident of The United Kingdom, you can download Kindle versions of the Omnibus editions. Which is one clot of a deal!
Here's the Kindle link for BATTLECRY
Here's the Kindle link for JUGGERNAUT
Here's the Kindle link for DEATHMATCH



Two new companion editions to the international best-selling Sten series. In the first, learn the Emperor's most closely held  cooking secrets. In the other, Sten unleashes his shaggy-dog joke cracking sidekick, Alex Kilgour. Both available as trade paperbacks or in all major e-book flavors. Click here to tickle your funny bone or sizzle your palate.  



Venice Boardwalk Circa 1969
In the depths of the Sixties and The Days Of Rage, a young newsman, accompanied by his pregnant wife and orphaned teenage brother, creates a Paradise of sorts in a sprawling Venice Beach community of apartments, populated by students, artists, budding scientists and engineers lifeguards, poets, bikers with  a few junkies thrown in for good measure. The inhabitants come to call the place “Pepperland,” after the Beatles movie, “Yellow Submarine.” Threatening this paradise is  "The Blue Meanie,"  a crazy giant of a man so frightening that he eventually even scares himself. Here's where to buy the book. 


Diaspar Magazine - the best SF magazine in South America - is publishing the first novel in the Sten series in four 
episodes. Part One and Part Two appeared in back-to-back issues. And now Part Three has hit the virtual book stands.  Stay tuned, for the grand conclusion. Meanwhile, here are the links to the first three parts. Remember, it's free!

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